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August 02, 2013, Friday

Inequality in the military

The Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Tuesday vehemently opposed a government proposal submitted to the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission to abolish military courts.

The Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) proposal says military courts can only be referred to in times of war and to try offenders who violate military rules. The current system, where the military has independent courts, causes a duality in the court system, another reason opponents of military courts often cite. The CHP and the MHP say military courts should stay. In their proposal to the commission, the two parties jointly argued that the “military judiciary should comprise military courts and disciplinary courts,” and that these courts be in charge of “crimes committed by individuals who are members of the military during military service.” The joint proposal, however, makes clear that civilians cannot be tried at a military court. Columnists have been discussing the government's proposal and sharing their opinions about the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meetings.

Star columnist Eser Karakaş criticizes the fact that National Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz presided over the YAŞ meeting instead of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as this is confusing. The meeting reminded Karakaş of the days of military tutelage and did not give the impression of a democratic meeting.

Bugün's Gülay Göktürk writes that if the proposal to abolish military courts is accepted by the government, it would mean a violation of democracy and ruin superiority of law. Göktürk also says that it could lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Göktürk says members of the military who are involved in killings, rape, torture and other such crimes should not be promoted and should be punished by the courts. Göktürk gives an example of the promotion of a military officer named Musa Çitil. Çitil, who was the gendarmerie commander in charge of Mardin's Derik region between 1993 and 1994, has been on trial for his role in the deaths of 13 villagers since 2012. Derik is currently the Ankara gendarmerie regional commander, says Göktürk.

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